Alliance Française Vancouver organizes every month or so its EU Book Club in English, free, open to everyone, in collaboration with the european embassies. Each time, a different country presents a book from their native country. It is a great opportunity to discover european books translated in English!
Set in a small town in Switzerland, The Pledge centers around the murder of a young girl and a detective who vows to find the girl's perpetrator. After deciding the wrong man has been arrested for the crime, the detective lays a trap for the real killer - but cruel turns of plot conspire to make him pay dearly for his pledge.
"The Pledge" was adapted for the screen in 2001. The Hollywood production was mostly shot in Canada and was directed by Sean Penn, starring Jack Nicholson, Benicio del Torro, Patricia Clarkson and Helen Mirren.
All her life Vera has felt like a stranger in the old and drafty half-timbered farmhouse she arrived at as a five-year-old refugee from East Prussia in 1945, and yet she can’t seem to let it go. Sixty years later, her niece Anne suddenly shows up at her door with her small son.
Anne has fled the trendy Hamburg neighborhood she never fit into after her relationship imploded. Vera and Anne are strangers to each other but have much more in common than they think. As the two strong-willed and very different women share the great old house, they find what they have never thought to search for: a family.
Dörte Hansen was born in Husum in northern Germany. She studied languages and completed a Ph.D. in linguistics. She then turned to journalism, spent several years working as a radio editor, and is now an author for radio and print. This House Is Mine is her first novel and at the same time an international bestseller that showcases her impressive talent for characterization and dialogue in an exceptional book that combines emotional depth and humor.
“The Murderess is a bone-chilling tale of crime and punishment with the dark beauty of a backwoods ballad. Set on the dirt-poor Aegean island of Skiathos, it is the story of Hadoula, an old woman living on the margins of society and at the outer limits of respectability. Hadoula knows about herbs and their hidden properties, and women come to her when they need help. She knows women’s secrets and she knows the misery of their lives, and as the book begins, she is trying to stop her new-born granddaughter from crying so that her daughter can at last get a little sleep. She rocks the baby and rocks her and then the terrible truth hits her: there’s nothing worse than being born a woman, and there’s something that she, Hadoula, can do about that.” New York Review Books, 2019.
Alexandros Papadiamantis (1851–1911) was born and raised on the Aegean island of Skiathos, the setting not only of The Murderess but of many of his short stories, literary sketches, and novels. His mother was a descendent of an established local family and his father was a Greek Orthodox priest. As a young man, Papadiamantis spent seven months in a monastery and studied philosophy at the University of Athens before taking up a career as a journalist and translator. He enjoyed popular success as the author of historical adventure novels like The Gypsy Girl (1884), which were serialized in daily newspapers, but it was not until he turned to writing short stories and novellas that he gained critical recognition. Though a heavy drinker and smoker, Papadiamantis was devout, poor, and solitary, known as the saint of modern Greek literature. He lived in Athens rooming houses until 1908, when he returned to Skiathos. Two years later, he died of pneumonia.” Amazon, 2019
("Die kalte Schulter")
Moritz Wenk is an averagely unsuccessful painter, and Judith Wenk, a dental hygienist, are a close and harmonius couple. During a week in a very hot summer, in perhaps Zurich, he's found work cutting out and painting shop-window dummies for a costume rental firm. There he meets a small cast of extras: a befriended couple, Kurt and Silvia, who are having difficulties, Wenk's mother, a successful painter colleague of his (Rotzel), a little erotic confrontation with a trainee in the store, and another with an ex-model of his (Maya). It's his birthday, he gets to be 38. Cold Shoulder is a chamber novel told with Werner's characteristic charm and spleen that will delight current Werner fans and attract new ones as well.
Markus Werner was born in 1944 in Eschlikon, canton of Thurgau, Switzerland. Having written his dissertation on Max Frisch, Werner worked as a teacher in Schaffhausen before becoming a full-time writer in 1990. He is the author of seven novels, including On the Edge (2004), and has won numerous prizes.
("Η αρχαία σκουριά")
“My father, thunderstruck, was demanding to know: “But when? This is madness! Impossible.” When at last he replaces the receiver in a grand Shakespearean manner – my father has it in the blood – he broke the news to us: Dictatorship. My mother cried out and collapsed in a heap on the sofa. Calliope the maid, as part of her duties, always manages to sense the right moment for a restorative coffee, and set off for the kitchen. My father repeated: “Dictatorship, do you hear!” I stared at him, shaking off sleep.
This is how Myrsini Panayotou, an Athenian girl about to start university, learns of the coup d’etat that brought to power the infamous dictatorship of the “Colonels” in her country in the early hours of Friday, 21st April 1967. The child of a well-to-do family, Myrsini enthusiastically joins the underground resistance, making common cause with a varied cast of characters from backgrounds very different from her own. After an early failed love affair, she gets engaged to George, a political prisoner, only to find her human instincts increasingly difficult to reconcile with her idealistic philosophy once he is released. The story moves towards its climax as Myrsini becomes involved in the bloody events of 17th November 1973, when tanks were used to evict students from the Athens Polytechnic. At the same time the fortunes of Myrsini’s family form a backdrop at once touching and bizarre to an impressionable girl’s unflinching search for a true identity, both for herself and for her country.
Fool’s Gold is a sparkling novel by a talented writer, one of the foremost of a generation which grew up in the shadow of the events Maro Douka describes”
Maro Douka (b. 1947) is a celebrated Greek novelist. She studied History and Archaeology at the University of Athens. Her impressive publication record includes nine novels and four novellas. She is a member of the Hellenic Authors' Society, and has received multiple inter/national prizes in recognition of her works and contribution in literature (including the Balkanika Prize for Literature, the Nikos Kazantzakis Prize of the Municipality of Heraklion, the Greek State Prize for Literature, the Kostas and Eleni Ouranis Prize of the Academy of Athens and the Cavafy Prize).
("O Homem Duplicado")
In 1998, the Nobel Prize in Literature was awarded to José Saramago, the first and only Portuguese writer to receive such an honour. To mark the 20th anniversary of the award, the book club will be dedicated to his novel “O Homem Duplicado”, the duplicated man translated in English as “The Double”. Published in 2002, it tells the story of Tertuliano Maximo Afonso an ordinary history teacher that becomes obsessed with a man he sees while watching a movie and that looks exactly like him. Against his own better judgment he decides to pursue his double. As he establishes the man's identity, what begins as a whimsical story becomes a dark meditation on identity and, perhaps, on the crass assumptions behind cloning - that we are merely our outward appearance rather than the sum of our experiences.
A “wonderfully twisted meditation on identity and individuality” from a Nobel Prize–winning author who pushes fiction to its very limits (The Boston Globe).
José Saramago (1922-2010) a writer from a working-class background was 60 when he had his first major success with “The memorial of the Convent” (or “Baltasar and Blimunda” in some translations). After his breakthrough, he quickly established an international reputation with novels that combine surrealist experimentation with a kind of sardonic peasant pragmatism and a distinctive narrative style. More than two million copies of his books have been sold in Portugal alone and his work has been translated into 25 languages. In 1999, the José Saramago Literary Prize was established in his honour to recognize young authors writing in Portuguese.
Giverny. During the day, the home of the famous artist Claude Monet and the gardens where he painted his waterlilies. But once the tourists have gone, there is a darker side to the peaceful French village. This is the story of thirteen days that begin with one murder and end with another. Jerome Morval, a man whose passion for art was matched only by his passion for women, has been found dead in the stream that runs through the gardens. In his pocket is a postcard of Monet's Waterlilies with the words: Eleven years old. Happy Birthday. Entangled in the mystery are three women: a young painting prodigy, the seductive village schoolteacher and an old widow who watches over the village from a mill by the stream. All three of them share a secret. But what do they know about the discovery of Jerome Morval's corpse? And what is the connection to the mysterious, rumoured painting of Black Water Lilies?
Michel Bussi is one of France's most celebrated crime authors. The winner of more than 15 major literary awards, he is a professor of
geography at the University of Rouen and a political commentator.
'This elegant crime mystery shimmers as delicately as the paintings of Claude Monet that lie at its heart . . . A bestseller in France, it is a dazzling, unexpected and haunting masterpiece' Daily Mail
It was an icy morning in January 1945 when the patrol came for seventeen-year-old Leo Auberg to deport him to a camp in the Soviet Union. Leo would spend the next five years in a coke processing plant, shoveling coal, lugging bricks, mixing mortar, and battling the relentless calculus of hunger that governed the labor colony: one shovel load of coal is worth one gram of bread. In her new novel, Nobel laureate Herta Müller calls upon her unique combination of poetic intensity and dispassionate precision to conjure the distorted world of the labor camp in all its physical and moral absurdity.
Herta Müller was born in a farming family living in Nitchidorf, outside Timisoara, Romania. Her family belonged to Romania's German-speaking minority, whose vulnerable position during the communist regime came to color her life and literary works. Herta Müller was dismissed from her position as a translator after refusing to cooperate with the Securitate secret police, becoming a teacher and author instead. Her debut work, 'Nadirs', was published in Romania as a censored version in 1982, while uncensored copies were distributed abroad. Herta Müller went into exile in Germany in 1987. She is the recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Literature.
In Other Words is at heart a love story—of a long and sometimes difficult courtship, and a passion that verges on obsession: that of a writer for another language. For Jhumpa Lahiri, that love was for Italian, which first captivated and capsized her during a trip to Florence after college. And although Lahiri studied Italian for many years afterward, true mastery had always eluded her. So in 2012, seeking full immersion, she decided to move to Rome with her family, for “a trial by fire, a sort of baptism” into a new language and world. In Rome, Lahiri began to read, and to write—initially in her journal—solely in Italian. In Other Words, an autobiographical work written in Italian, investigates the process of learning to express oneself in another language, and describes the journey of a writer seeking a new voice. Presented in a dual-language format, it is a book about exile, linguistic and otherwise, written with an intensity and clarity not seen since Nabokov. A startling act of self-reflection and a provocative exploration of belonging and reinvention.
Nilanjana Sudeshna "Jhumpa" Lahiri is an Indian American author. Lahiri's debut short story collection Interpreter of
Maladies (1999) won the 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, and her first novel, The Namesake (2003), was adapted into the popular film of
the same name. She is a member of the President's Committee on the Arts and Humanities, appointed by U.S. President Barack Obama. Her book
The Lowland, published in 2013, was a nominee for the Man Booker Prize and the National Book Award for Fiction.
In Other Words was published in 2015.
Lahiri is currently a professor of creative writing at Princeton University.